The small town of Pucón, located in southern Chile, is a charming place. It is surrounded by a huge lake and by the active volcano Villarica which makes it the perfect destination to relax in its warm waters, enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes of the region and pushes you to try out extreme sports. Here in our guide to visit Pucón you will find advice and useful tips for planning your itinerary.
Pucón is the favorite city for lovers of adventure / Photo: Lucila Runnacles
What to do
Its biggest attraction is the Villarica Volcano. Active, imposing and with its snowy summit, it seems to greet all those who visit Pucón from above. For the more adventurous, reaching its crater is a great challenge that can be done during a day of intense hiking.
Several agencies offer the climbing trip to the volcano, which can only be done with a guide and professional equipment (snow boots, crampons, gas mask, etc). The tour starts early, before sunrise and the expected arrival time to the top is around 1:00 p.m. In total it takes about 8 hours to reach the top of Villarica and take in the incredible views of the lakes and other volcanoes of the region. Although the agencies offer this tour for all types of tourists, it is necessary to have some physical preparation to get to the end.
Other adventurous activities to do in Pucón are rafting and hydrospeed (descent by mountain rivers in a single boat) in the Trancura River, paragliding, canopy and zip-lining in the waterfalls. These activities are mainly done in the summer months (from November to February) and during this time it is common to see the Caburgua and Villarica lakes full of boats and jet skis.
There are more than 10 spas in Pucón to relax in its thermal waters / Photo: Lucila Runnacles
If, on the other hand, you are looking for quieter activities in the Pucón region, you can take a relaxing bath in its famous hot springs. There are more than 10 spas around the city. The most famous is the Geometric Spa, which has 17 stone pools and plenty of hot water available to visitors. This activity can be done all year round, but it takes a little extra courage to take off your clothes in the cold and soak in the warm water during the winter.
For lovers of hiking, a few kilometers away from Pucón are the national parks Villarica (10 km) and Huerquehue (36 km), ideal for long walks on quiet trails.
Visiting the City
Despite being small, Pucón has many restaurants and bakeries that offer visitors exquisite dishes. Most travel agencies are located on O’higgins Street, which is the main avenue, and there is a wide variety of restaurants on Fresia Street.
The city also has several markets selling handmade crafts. The pieces made of wood and the wool clothing are typical products and you won’t be able to stop sampling the merkén, a reddish condiment with pepper typical of the region.
When to go
Going to Pucón during in summer is perfect for those who enjoy water activities and outdoor excursions. During the months of December and January, Pucón is filled with Chilean tourists. In this period of the high season, the roads near Pucón become congested. During these months the average temperature is 22 ° C and there is little rain.
In any season of the year you can go hiking in Pucón / Photo: Lucila Runnacles
For its part, the winter in Pucón is a paradise for lovers of skiing and snowboarding. The main ski center, which has 12 runs, is only 20 minutes from the city. Between July and October, thousands of foreigners and Chileans fill the region to ski and enjoy the snow at the foot of Villarica Volcano. During the winter, the thermometer varies between 10 ° C and 0 ° C. The months of June and July are also the rainiest.
As this region has two high seasons (December / January and July), choosing the low season has its advantages; better prices in accommodations and restaurants and fewer tourists circulating. March and April are good months to go because the temperature is pleasant, around 17 ° C and it almost never rains. Another option is to go during the spring (from September to November), when the temperature in the city is around 14 ° C and it is also low tourist season.
How to arrive
Pucón is located in the south, 780 kilometers from Santiago, in the Chilean region of Araucanía. The nearest airport is in Temuco, 80 km away. From Santiago there are direct flights to Temuco and the trip lasts about an hour. From the Temuco airport it is necessary to use a transfer service or take a taxi to Pucón.
There is a small airport in Pucón, located 5 km from the city, that only operates during the months of January and February. It is also possible to go by bus from Santiago. Although the trip is longer, about 10 hours, the bus brings you all the way to the city center of Pucón and that way it is not necessary to pay for a transfer.
Find your tours and excursions in Chile here.
Author: Lucila Runnacles, journalist and author of the blog Viagem Cult (in Portuguese)
Translated to English by Anna Englund